Freebie Watch: August 2006

It's surely only a matter of time before newspapers start giving away wallpaper sheet-by-sheet as a way of enticing new readers — and judging by the sales results in August, they would probably be successful.

For a week, The Times gave its readers a "dangerous poster for boys" each day, and for the first two weeks in the month The Independent and Independent on Sunday, continued to give away free art posters.

The Times also offered readers a giant London poster and a week of Mr Men books, inserted with the paper.

Both The Independent and The Times outperformed the market average and moved up the Press Gazette league table of paid-for circulation growth.

Verdict: Hits

The Sunday Express sought to boost its flagging fortunes with a two-part Best of Paul Weller CD. That's Entertainment, the Express Newspapers circulation execs may have hoped, but it was more a case of Going Underground for the title's sales. The circulation drop of 10.1 per cent year-on-year was among the worst for any national title.

Verdict: Miss

The Mail on Sunday gave away a DVD of obscure Richard Harris film Walk with Lions and an audio CD of The Stranglers. The TV-promoted giveaways appear to have done the trick and helped the MoS marginally increase sales by 0.18 per cent year-onyear — making it one of only five national titles to achieve paid-for yearon- year circulation growth.

Verdict: Hit

Express Newspapers continued its campaign to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony with more language courses. The Star ambitiously encouraged its readers to learn Greek, German and Italian with a series of two-CD courses.

The result appears to have been a firm non grazie — paid-for circulation was down a worrying 7.29 per cent year on year to 828,395.

Verdict: Miss

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